Social media has transformed the world of recruitment, most notably in the way that employers now judge potential candidates. A YouGov survey conducted in 2017 found that up to 80% of employers were likely to check the social media accounts of applicants as part of their recruitment process. It also showed that one in five had actually turned down candidates based on their online activity.
The introduction of GDPR back in 2018technicallygave job seekers more rights concerning personal data related to their digital footprint. Strictly speaking, an employer should notify you in advance if they intend to check your social accounts as part of their screening process. GDPR also states that employers should only take into account information relevant to the role they are hiring for. The problem here, however, is that beyond the protected characteristics listed under the Equality Act (age, race, religion, gender etc.), there’s no hard and fast rule as to what is relevant and what isn’t.
Add to this the fact that you have voluntarily shared information on a public platform (privacy setting dependent), and it’s practically impossible to prove whether your social media played a part in an employer’s decision, and it becomes clear just how muddy the waters are when it comes to privacy, social media and recruitment.
The moral of the story? Play safe. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, if it’s out there, assume it’s fair game. The bottom line is that employers now have far greater insight into who you are as a person and, whether right or wrong, your skills and experience may no longer be enough to land you your dream job.
Social Media for Job Seekers – What to Avoid
We’ve established that you should always assume that your digital footprint will be checked during the recruitment process. It goes without saying then that you should avoid any inappropriate or offensive posts or comments, any sexual references, or anything relating to alcohol, drugs or illegal activity. That’s just plain common sense.
But it’s also important to change your social media mindset too. Consider your online profiles not as just a personal space to share with family and friends, but as a shop window for your employability, and avoid the following potential pitfalls.
Whilst there’s huge benefit to be had from sharing certain things online (that charity bike you’re taking part in, or that hobby you’re super passionate about), sharing too much information can be detrimental. Keep personal issues and arguments offline and don’t let the world know every time you pop down the local for a pint. Think before you post and ask yourself how it would look in the eyes of any potential future employer.
Don’t Post Negative Comments About Your Current Job
Slating the company you currently work for, or complaining about your job online, is a definite no no. This includes talking about your boss, colleagues or customers. Any negative comments about your current (or past) employment can cause serious concern for someone looking to hire you. Even if you’ve had the worst day imaginable, keep it off social. Broadcasting it to the masses might make you feel better, but it will also make you look unprofessional.
Don’t Assume Your Privacy Settings Make You Safe
You may have the strictest privacy settings on all of your profiles, but don’t take it for granted that whatever you post will remain unseen. Think 15 degrees of separation. Your future boss may well know someone who knows someone who has access to your profiles and, unfortunately, the rules of GDPR do not apply to idle gossip. The last thing you want is a potential employer to have a preconceived negative opinion of you based on rumour.
And on the subject of privacy settings, having them so strict that you’re pretty much invisible can also be damaging. Employers aren’t looking you up purely for the purpose of counting you out. They’re looking to see how good a fit you are for their company and the role in question, and your social presence (done right) can be a great indicator. Be open to sharing your digital footprint – it could well tip the balance in your favour in a competitive job market.
Social Media Tips for Job Seekers
So, if recruiters want to see you active online, how do you manage your social media and make sure they see you at your best? Here are a few simple tips.
1) Search Yourself Online
Before any potential employer has the opportunity to find you, find yourself first. You’re unlikely to get relevant results from just your name, so try searching your name and location. If you find social media profiles that you no longer use, get rid of them. You want to make it as easy as possible for employers to find information that shows you are a good candidate. Dormant profiles that haven’t been updated for years are useless here. And it goes without saying, if you find anything that paints you in less than positive light, get rid of that too.
2) Give Your Profiles an Overhaul
Go through each of your active profiles in turn, making sure they’re up to date and appropriate. Double-check them against your CV and make sure any relevant information (education, employment etc.) tallies with what you have listed on your social media. Remove anything that you think could damage your reputation or be seen as negative. A good profile picture can also help to make a strong first impression, so make sure they are appropriate too.
3) Create Your Personal Brand
Just as businesses approach social media with their brand in mind, think of your own online presence as personal branding. How do you want to be seen in the eyes of employers? What messages do you want to convey? Creating a professional persona that shows a valid interest in your area of work can boost your employability. But remember to be true to yourself – your personality should shine through at the same time. Share or comment on insightful articles from your industry, follow relevant businesses and showcase your own career achievements. Then balance this out by injecting your own tone of voice, sense of humour, and snippets of valid personal experiences.
4) Talk to a Recruitment Agency
Recruitment agencies are valuable assets to anyone looking to find new employment. They know what employers look for in potential candidates, as well as having a vested interest in sourcing suitable applicants on behalf of their clients. They can offer insightful and impartial advice on how to spruce up your online presence and get a head start in the recruitment race. So, if you’re looking for more advice and social media tips for job seekers then get in touch today.